Being pregnant can be more expensive than you imagine. Firstly there is the cost of those exotic foods you need to buy to fulfill the weird cravings, and then all the massages you need to spend money on (not for the woman, but for the man who is so tired and sore from giving his lady daily back and shoulder rubs). Jokes aside, pregnancy can be seen as a time to indulge. Yes, I realise I am about to enter shaky ground here, however I can assure you I wrote this bit with Claudia’s input and I totally acknowledge that a man can never appreciate the aches, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, pain and changes to the body that all come with being pregnant. It is fine to indulge and there are many ways you can do so. But please keep those indulgences within your means and remember that your financial situation is about to change. Yes, hearing your baby’s heartbeat is one of the most wonderful sounds expectant parents can experience, but is it really necessary to spend $100 on a fetal doppler so you can hear it at home?
You will need regular doctor and hospital/midwife visits, ultrasounds, blood tests and possibly other scans. Even when you go public, unless you hold a concession card, there will be some expense to you.
Yay we’re pregnant…. oh shit it’s triplets! If you are having two or more, get in touch with The Australian Multiple Birth Association for valuable help, contacts and clubs in all states and territories that you will use for many years to come. According to the AMBA, twins cost parents five times that of a single baby, and triplets are an incredible 13 times more expensive than one bub. The extra costs come in the form of upgrades to vehicles, homes and the fact that multiple kids don’t tend to get hand-me-downs from older siblings.
Possibly the most expensive part of pregnancy is nesting. It’s also where you can save yourself a considerable amount of money. Claudia’s parents saved themselves a heap of money on nesting when her mum was pregnant because it was considered bad luck to buy stuff for the baby before it was born. If you live close enough to both sets of parents to have babysitting on tap, you might be able to duck to the shops to get everything you need after the birth. But for most people it’s not really very practical and doesn’t help get the bub home from hospital. Actually, baby seats are so hard to install properly in cars that you want to get started as soon as you see the second line appear on the stick that you’ve just done a wee on.
One thing you won’t need right away is a cot. “Where is the baby going to sleep?” you ask. In a bassinet. Bassinets are usually only used for the first couple of weeks or months before the baby outgrows it, so they are a great thing to borrow from a friend or relative while you save up a few more bucks for a cot. The bassinet pictured is one that has been in our family for over 50 years. To date there have been about 21 children who have used it. It might not be pretty, but it’s a special piece of family history.
According to Kidsafe, you should buy new products like cots, baby seats and prams that have the Australian Safety Standards tick. Buying secondhand is no guarantee that these things will be safe, unless you do your homework. Product Safety Australia has a list of when mandatory standards came into effect for a bunch of stuff including baby products and toys. If you are able to purchase secondhand products that you are reasonably certain have the Aussie Standards tick (some might still have the sticker on them) and are still in good nick, it’ll keep your mind at ease. The Choice Guide To Baby Products can also help out. For a less comprehensive guide than the book, go to Choice baby products safety guide online.
Currently in its 13th edition, The Choice Guide To Baby Products is a great resource for new parents.
Keep an eye on garage sales for pre-loved baby stuff. Parents tend to get rid of all their old baby furniture, clothes, pram, etc. all at the same time. It usually happens after so many sleepless nights with their current children, that the couple realise they’re not needing to spend money on contraception.
Everyone loves the first child. Baby No. 1 is showered with gifts from family and friends both before and after they come into the world. Everyone remembers the first child’s name. Baby number 2 doesn’t get jack and the third kid is lucky to have been born in the first place (not that I’m bitter about being a mistake). So lots of things like clothing, toys, bibs, wraps, nappies, etc. will materialise for you during your first pregnancy, which is great for your wallet even if nothing really matches. If you know that there will be a baby shower thrown for you, don’t be afraid to suggest gifts like teething rings, a thermometer, books and even Baby Panadol/Nurofen and bottles, which people may be less inclined to think of.
Even if you know the sex of baby number 1, buy unisex clothing for them. That way you can use the same clothes for their sibling/s. This should work for the first six or so months, after which time it is near impossible to buy baby clothes that are not pink with butterflies or blue with dinosaurs. And remember that babies grow very quickly – buy a heap of clothing for them in the one size and they may only wear those items once or not at all.
Fellas, buy gifts like breast pumps for your lady at your own peril. Some women may appreciate the thought, others will not, especially if that’s the only thing you give them for your anniversary. Breast pumps – practical gifts, but not very romantic.
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of going into a baby shop or baby section of a supermarket, being swayed by how cute everything looks, then buying a whole heap of stuff you don’t need. It’s clever marketing to get expectant parents to part with their cash for things that look cool. The best way to counter the marketers is to go back to basics – make a list of what you will need and only buy stuff that’s on that list. Babies do need a lot of crap, but there is a crapload more crap out there they don’t need, including half the crap you read on those “must have” lists compiled by companies like Johnson & Johnson.
Although there is heaps of stuff you won’t need, there are a few things you will need that you may forget (even if they are actually things you never want to use).
It’s no news to anyone that being a parent is a responsibility that lasts at least until the child is independent, and that responsibility means a lot of dosh. If you can’t provide that money because you have lost your ability to earn it or you die, you have to ensure that your insurance can provide it on your behalf.
When you are expecting, it’s the ideal time to upgrade your life insurance (yes, both of you), ensure your superannuation beneficiaries are up to date and finally get those wills written. Even if you both have wills, it’s time to update or revisit them to ensure any future children are taken into account. There’s heaps more detail on these matters back in the Insurance, Superannuation and Estate Planning topics.